A Study of All Ireland Football Championship Qualifier series success levels

Adrian Kavanagh, 17 June 2013

As with all other aspects of sporting success, there is a notable geographical dimension to success levels in Gaelic Games and this is particularly evident in terms of the success levels enjoyed by different counties and different regions in the Gaelic Football Championship qualifier rounds. This post analyses how different counties have fared in these qualifiers since these were first introduced at the start of the 2000s and notes that certain provinces and certain counties have fared decidedly better in these than other provinces and counties.

Derry (with 19 wins in 25 qualifier matches) has won the most games in the qualifer series, since they started in 2001,  followed by Kildare (17 wins out of 25), Meath (16 wins out of 24), Donegal (15 wins out of 21) and Tyrone (15 wins out of 19).

W D L Games % Success
Derry 19 8 27 70%
Kildare 17 1 7 25 69%
Meath 16 8 24 67%
Tyrone 15 1 3 19 81%
Donegal 15 6 21 71%
Laois 13 8 21 62%
Westmeath 13 1 9 23 58%
Down 13 10 23 57%
Kerry 10 10 100%
Fermanagh 10 10 20 50%
Longford 10 12 22 45%
Dublin 9 1 10 90%
Armagh 9 1 6 16 58%
Sligo 9 9 18 50%
Monaghan 9 11 20 45%
Limerick 8 1 11 20 42%
Louth 8 1 12 21 40%
Cork 7 3 10 70%
Roscommon 7 1 9 17 43%
Wicklow 7 1 10 18 41%
Tipperary 6 10 16 38%
Offaly 6 11 17 35%
Wexford 6 2 11 19 35%
Mayo 5 5 10 50%
Antrim 5 1 10 16 33%
Cavan 5 1 12 18 30%
Galway 4 7 11 36%
Carlow 3 10 13 23%
Clare 3 10 13 23%
London 1 9 10 10%
Waterford 1 10 11 9%
Leitrim 1 11 12 8%

However, as the table above shows, if the figures are analysed to consider teams’ percentage success levels as opposed to just looking at the number of qualifier wins, then Kerry, Dublin  and Tyrone come very much to the fore and edges these counties into the Top 3 of successful qualifier counties ahead of counties such as Derry, Donegal, Kildare and Meath. These counties’ success levels in their respective provincial championships during the 2000s mean that they have not had as much recourse to playing in the qualifier series as Derry, Donegal, Kildare or Meath have (in particular Derry as this county has played in every qualifier series since 2001). But when  Kerry, Dublin or Tyrone have played in the qualifiers they have tended to win most of these games, or indeed all of these games as in the case of Kerry. Dublin has only lost one qualifer match – to then All Ireland champions, Armagh, in the 2003 qualifier series (after Dublin had earlier been crushed in the Leinster semi final by Laois – COME ON LAOIS!!!). One of Tyrone’s three defeats in the qualifiers came in the 2002 series when they lost to Sligo, a year before Tyrone went on to win the county’s first ever All Ireland championship, with the others coming against Laois (in 2006) and Kerry (in 2012).

W D L Games % Success
Ulster 100 4 76 180 56%
Leinster 108 6 99 213 52%
Munster 35 1 44 80 44%
Connacht 26 1 41 68 39%
Connacht/London 27 1 50 78 35%

Ulster counties are shown to have achieved the greatest level of success in the qualifier series (although there have been more wins by counties from Leinster), with counties from Munster and Connacht trailing well behind these provinces in terms of their levels of success in the qualifiers.

This data suggests that the qualifier series have offered opportunities to lower ranked counties in Ulster and Leinster, which have tended to be overshadowed at provincial level due to the dominance of Dublin in Leinster and Tyrone/Armagh/Donegal in Ulster during the 2000s, to make an impact on the competition and develop a run in the Football championship, opportunities that would not have been open to these counties in the old straight knock-out system. Counties have also been able to build on their development during a qualifier series to launch a stronger and more serious challenge for provincial honours in subsequent years. Westmeath’s 2003 Leinster win came in the wake of strong showings by that county in qualifier games in the early 2000s, with the same applying to Sligo’s Connacht championship win in 2007. While never succeeding in winning  the title, Fermanagh’s good performances in the qualifier series in the early 2000s were a precursor to a strong challenge by that county for the Ulster championship in subsequent years.

While the likes of Westmeath, Sligo, Fermanagh, Longford and Monaghan have exceeded expectations in their qualifier performances over the past ten years, other more high profile counties have disappointing records in the qualifiers records. Especially given that they used the qualifiers (including three wins over Wicklow, Armagh and Cork) as a springboard to winning the All Ireland in the first year that these were introduced (2001), Galway’s record in qualifier games in the following nine years has been very poor. When the three 2001 qualifier wins are taken out of the equation, Galway’s record in qualifier games played since 2002 would show just one win out of eight games played (a 12.5% success rate), which would only leave London, Waterford and Leitrim below them in the qualifier rankings. Counties such as Limerick and Antrim have not been able to build on strong and improving results at the provincial championships in the qualifier series over recent years, while Offaly’s poor record in the qualifier series is at odds with that county’s footballing pedigree and with the fact that Offaly had won a Leinster Football championship only four years before the qualifier system was introduced.

******

Update (1st July 2013): The first round of Gaelic Football qualifier matches generally went with previous form, withe the team with the strongest record in qualifier matches to date (as indicated by the table above) winning most of these match-ups. The only exception came with the Westmeath v Fermanagh game, which could well be the exception that proves the rule given the closeness of the result here and the fact the two counties past records in qualifier matches are relatively similar.

2013 W D L Games Success % Success rank
Derry 20 8 28 71.4% 4
Donegal 15 6 21 71.4% 5
Meath 16 8 24 66.7% 8
Westmeath 13 1 10 24 55.6% 12
Kildare 17 1 7 25 69.3% 7
Tyrone 16 1 3 20 81.7% 3
Fermanagh 11 10 21 52.4% 13
Monaghan 9 11 20 45.0% 17
Dublin 9 1 10 90.0% 2
Sligo 9 10 19 47.4% 16
Down 13 10 23 56.5% 11
Kerry 10 10 100.0% 1
Longford 11 12 23 47.8% 15
Armagh 10 1 6 17 60.8% 10
Laois 14 8 22 63.6% 9
Louth 9 1 12 22 42.4% 19
Roscommon 7 1 9 17 43.1% 18
Cork 7 3 10 70.0% 6
Wexford 6 2 11 19 35.1% 24
Wicklow 7 1 11 19 38.6% 22
Mayo 5 5 10 50.0% 14
Offaly 6 12 18 33.3% 25
Cavan 5 1 12 18 29.6% 27
Galway 5 7 12 41.7% 20
Limerick 8 1 12 21 39.7% 21
Carlow 3 11 14 21.4% 29
Tipperary 6 11 17 35.3% 23
Clare 3 10 13 23.1% 28
Antrim 5 1 11 17 31.4% 26
London 1 9 10 10.0% 30
Waterford 1 10 11 9.1% 31
Leitrim 1 11 12 8.3% 32

Overall, this was a good week for the Ulster counties – and, to a lesser degree, also for Connacht arising from a relatively rare Galway qualifier win – but not such a good week for Leinster with a number of Leinster counties exiting the championship in this round.

W D L P Success %
Ulster 104 4 77 185 56.9%
Leinster 111 6 103 220 51.4%
Munster 35 1 46 82 43.1%
Connacht 27 1 42 70 39.0%

These trends are evident in the above table, which shows the relative success level of Leinster declining, especially in relation to Ulster.

******************************************

Update – 15th July

Following the second round of qualifier games, Derry has cemented their position as the most successful team in qualifiers history in terms of number of wins following a revenge victory over Down, the team that knocked them out of the Ulster Championship. There were also wins for some of the other counties that rank strongly in terms of total numbers of qualifier game victories, including Kildare, Tyrone and Laois. As in the previous round, the general tendency was for ties to be won by the team with the best previous qualifiers record – the only exceptions to this rule being the Cavan win over Fermanagh and the Wexford win over Longford. If the same trend continues into Round 3, one would expect Derry, Armagh and Laois (pleaseeeeee!!!) to be emerging as the winners from their games, while the Kildare (most wins) and Tyrone (best percentage success level) match could go either way!

W D L Success (%)
Derry 21 8 72%
Kildare 18 1 7 71%
Tyrone 17 1 3 83%
Meath 16 8 67%
Donegal 15 6 71%
Laois 15 8 65%
Westmeath 13 1 10 56%
Down 13 11 54%
Armagh 11 1 6 63%
Fermanagh 11 11 50%
Longford 11 13 46%
Kerry 10 100%
Dublin 9 1 90%
Sligo 9 10 47%
Monaghan 9 11 45%
Louth 9 1 13 41%
Limerick 8 1 12 40%
Cork 7 3 70%
Roscommon 7 1 10 41%
Wicklow 7 1 11 39%
Wexford 7 2 11 38%
Galway 6 7 46%
Tipperary 6 11 35%
Offaly 6 12 33%
Cavan 6 1 12 33%
Mayo 5 5 50%
Antrim 5 1 11 31%
Carlow 3 11 21%
Clare 3 11 21%
London 1 9 10%
Waterford 1 11 8%
Leitrim 1 12 8%

 

As in previous years, the dominance of Ulster and Leinster teams in the qualifiers remains very evident this year and these two provinces account for 14 of the 16 victories in this year’s series to date. The only county outside these provinces to have won qualifier games this year is Galway, with the county experiencing its best run in the qualifiers since 2001 with two wins in the  qualifier series to date.

W D L Success (%)
Ulster 108 4 79 57%
Leinster 114 6 105 51%
Munster 35 1 48 42%
Connacht 28 1 44 39%

No county from Munster has won a qualifier game so far in this year’s competition, although Cork may break that run of poor form in Round 4 when they play the winners of Galway and Armagh.

******************************

Advertisements

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: